April 14, 2011 | 3 Comments
If you are a Liberal Party supporter, you probably think your guy won. After all, he stuck to his talking points, hammered them home, and got a few good headline photos of him dressing down the Prime Minister.
But if your vote is still up for grabs, you are probably less likely to want the Liberal leader to be Prime Minister after his performance in the English debate. Why? Because he did not appear prime ministerial.
He was negative in his approach, acerbic in his diction, and just downright angry. While it is good—indeed, it is a virtue—to be passionate about fighting for health care, education, and the things that matter most to Canadians, the message loses its force when it is delivered with acrimony.
But don’t take my word for it. There is a science to this. In a 1998 study, subjects were shown contrasting behaviours from two politicians engaged in an election campaign. The politician who took a negative approach, like the Liberal leader did on Tuesday, was seen as aggressive and arrogant. In contrast, the politician whom subjects perceived as self-assured and competent was the one who reacted calmly to criticism and explained in detail his plans for governing.
It remains to be seen how all of this will shake out on May 2. But I will be surprised if those currently non-affiliated voters who end up voting Liberal will have been convinced by the Liberal leader’s performance in the English debate.
(The French debate is another matter altogether, because I think the Liberal leader won that one. But it is hard to tell whether it was a good enough performance to overcome what Chantal Hebert calls his Quebec problem.)